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China claims piracy at new low

Wait a minute, how low?

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The rate of software piracy in China dropped to just 38 per cent in 2011, according to new government-backed figures that are markedly different to those from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which recently branded the country the world's worst offender.

State-run newspaper China Daily proudly reported the figures, which come from consultancy China Labs – a firm which has reportedly been carrying out research on the topic for the State Intellectual Property Office for several years.

According to the report, software piracy has been on the wane for seven consecutive years, dropping most recently from 45 per cent in 2009, to 41 per cent in 2010.

Zhai Lifeng, an official at the National Copyright Administration, told the Daily that during a 2011 crackdown, 466 individuals and firms were handed out “administrative punishment” while 66 cases were sent for criminal investigation.

While the government-derived news looks rosy, the Business Software Alliance's (PDF) most recent findings estimate China's piracy rate at 77 per cent, the highest in the world, with losses for the software industry an estimated £5.7bn.

The People’s Republic has found it hard to make a significant impact over the years, according to the BSA, which put the figure at 78 per cent in 2010, just one percentage point lower than in 2009.

Gartner’s official Data and Intellectual Property Security and Privacy rating for the country is ‘poor’ and claims there is still “a long way to go” to improve the piracy issue.

However, the government has begun to take the issue seriously, starting with a purge of counterfeit software running on its own computers.

Microsoft has also had some success prosecuting Chinese companies it has accused of widespread piracy.

It's also worth remembering that back in 2003, the piracy rate in China was a staggering 92 per cent, according to the BSA. ®

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